Associations Can Deliver Value, But How Much?

February 26, 2007
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Trade associations and professional societies are wonderful industry or profession collaborations and deliver high value to their members. After a decade and a half of speaking at association and society conventions, I can safely make the above statement. And I can also safely say that most society and association staff and volunteer leadership do not have a clue as to the real dollar value their organization delivers to its members.

Are you an association volunteer leader? If so, tell me quickly the yearly sustainable real-dollar value you receive from your yearly investment of time and money. Can you do it? Most likely you cannot. If you are an association staff member, tell me the average yearly return on investment (ROI) your members receive. Can you do it? Most likely you cannot.

While associations and societies have traditionally created plenty of value for their members, they have done quite a poor job of demonstrating the value that they deliver. For years, it did not matter. Why? Through the 1980s, people still joined their trade association or professional society simply because it was the thing to do. Most of those wonderful people have either retired or died off.

Today, younger persons ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” and unfortunately, organizations don’t have the answers. For several years now, I have been conducting my Member Value Process for associations and societies - it can answer my above questions of yearly sustainable real-dollar value received and ROI.

For about half a decade I have been talking to my association audiences about a 1999 study conducted by the American Society of Association Executives on why members do not retain their membership. My personal synthesizing of the data leads me to believe that over 75 percent of the members surveyed that did not renew their membership decided that because they did not believe they were receiving enough value for their membership investment.

While no two associations are the same, I have listed below a few common line items of member benefits that should help you to have a better understanding as to the real-dollar amounts that organization members have assigned during my sessions. Remember, these “cumulative specific value information” numbers are the yearly sustainable dollar-value amounts.

TRAINING & EDUCATION
Range: $500 to $4,000
Average: $1,857

INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC RESEARCH, REGULATORY & CODE
Range: $1,000 to $4,750
Average: $2,596

NETWORKING
Range: $200 to $10,000
Average: $4,029

PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION, IMAGE & CREDIBILITY
Range: $200 to $5,000
Average: $1,507

Telling your members what it is that you do for them is important. Telling them how much it is worth to them yearly is crucial for your success or that of any other trade association or professional society.

Publication date: 02/26/2007

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